Pests on the march

In the NYT on Monday (9/30), “Once Considered Won, Battle Against Invasive Beetles Is Renewed” by Paul Glader, beginning:

It is a menace from Asia that over the past two decades has ravaged tens of thousands of trees in several states. But after being wiped out in New Jersey, it seemed to be in retreat in New York thanks to a warlike response from federal and state governments. It was gone from Staten Island and Manhattan, and the battle against it was tilting toward eradication in Queens, in Brooklyn and on Long Island.

That was until Charlie Crimi spotted one in his Long Island backyard — an Asian long-horned beetle. “I didn’t really know what it was,” Mr. Crimi said of the large, white polka-dot, shiny black bug with long, wavy antennas that he saw in the summer of 2013. But after some Internet research, Mr. Crimi, 54, realized he had seen the notorious insect equivalent of Jesse James. He emailed a photo of the bug to a state forestry worker and received confirmation that what he had seen was, in fact, an Asian long-horned beetle.


From Wikipedia on this creature:

The Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), also known as the starry sky, sky beetle, or ALB, is a species native to eastern China, Japan, and Korea. This species has now been accidentally introduced into the United States, where it was first discovered in 1996, as well as Canada, Trinidad, and several countries in Europe, including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. This beetle is believed to have been spread from Asia in solid wood packaging material.

And on the genus:

Anoplophora is a genus of beetles in the longhorn beetle family (Cerambycidae). They are native to Asia. Most are large and colorful and thus are depicted in artwork and sought after by beetle collectors. The genus also includes several notorious pest insects.

… The Asian long-horned beetle (A. glabripennis) is native to China and Korea, and it is now widespread in Europe as an introduced species. It is also common in some major cities in North America, including Toronto, Chicago, and New York City, where it has infested and damaged thousands of street and park trees. Many tree species can serve as hosts to the beetle, but it especially favors maples.

The citrus long-horned beetle (A. chinensis syn. A. malasiaca) has been introduced from Asia to Europe and North America. It is a pest of citrus and other fruit and nut trees. It infests forest trees and ornamentals. It attacks over 100 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs from many plant families. Damage from its wood-boring larvae can kill trees.

The citrus trunk borer (A. versteegi) is the most serious pest of citrus in northeastern India. The larvae kill trees.

About the names: the long “horns” of long-horned beetles are just antennae — like horns in appearance, but not organs of offense or defense (unlike the mandibles of stag beetles, which are used as weapons). Hence the genus name, which incorporates the anoplo- element, from Greek ἄνοπλ-ος ‘unarmed’ ( < privative ἀν + ὅπλον ‘weapon’).

Long-horn(ed) beetles are also known as longicorns, from the Latin name.

Back to Long Island, in the NYT:

This fall, workers will start removing 4,500 trees along the Southern State Parkway in western Suffolk County to prevent further spread of the beetle. Removing the trees the beetle likes to attack — including maple, willow and birch — eliminates the insect’s habitat.

… The adult beetles lay eggs (sometimes dozens) just under the bark of a tree. The larvae grow inside the tree all winter [eating the cambium layer], turning the inside of the tree into a soggy mush and leaving its vascular system to rot as it burrows out, making exit holes that leave the tree looking as if it were machine-gunned.


At this point I wondered what the workers did with all this tree material they removed, and how they avoided spreading the beetles in the process. Burning, or what?


One Response to “Pests on the march”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Yes, I know about long-horn(ed) cattle, or longhorns (which really do have horns), and the (University of) Texas Longhorns (“Hook ’em, Horns!”).

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